Steve McDuffie, Bennett High School head football coach, was named the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Football Coach of the Week after his Tigers beat Grand Island 44-16 last weekend.
The game was played with temperatures near 90 degrees and a heat index close to 100 degrees.
"The weather played a huge factor," McDuffie said. "You could see the defenses getting exhausted very early in the game. Our kids played real well, especially in that weather."
Bennett quarterback Edward Bishop tossed three touchdown passes and rushed for 75 yards and another touchdown in the win. He also had five tackles and intercepted two passes on defense.
Senior running back Javon Fogan also had a big game. He rushed 10 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 80 yards including touchdowns of 37 and 42 yards. Fogan also made the play of the game. With Bennett holding a 24-14 lead late in the first half, he scooped up a fumble and ran 86 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown gave the Tigers a 32-14 halftime lead.
"We fumbled, but Javon made a real big play," McDuffie said. "We started to pull away in the second half."
The Bennett defense caused five turnovers in the win. In the second half, Bennett's running game was able to grind down the clock and add a pair of touchdowns.
"Our offensive line played great," McDuffie said. "They really did a great job in that heat."
This was McDuffie's first game as a varsity head coach, but he has been a fixture in the Western New York football scene for years.
He won two Harvard Cups while playing quarterback at Grover Cleveland under the legendary Art Serotte.
"I learned from him how to be dedicated and committed," McDuffie said. "He knew how to make us have a great focus each and every day."
McDuffie was named a first-team All-High player three times and a first-team All-WNY player as a senior. He was also named the MVP of the Kensington Lions North-South All-Star game. McDuffie graduated from Grover in 1991 and then played linebacker for four seasons at the University at Buffalo, then a Division I-AA program. As a senior, he was a team captain and helped the 1996 Bulls to an 8-3 record - the only winning record for Buffalo after their 1993 return to Division I football until 2008.
Each week during the 11-week high school football season a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills will select a high school football head coach as the Buffalo Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week. Each honoree will receive a $2,000 donation to their high school football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and New York National Guard. The eleven finalists are also eligible for the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year Award where an additional $2,000 grant for their high school's football program will be given.
As a result of McDuffie being named 2011's first Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Week winner, the Bennett football program will be given the $2,000 awarded by the Bills and the New York National Guard.
"I will definitely buy some things that the program needs to help us keep growing," he said. "Maybe we'll have a pizza party each and every week so we can get together as a team like coach Serotte used to do for us at Grover."